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From the Stands: Fewer US golfers but money rolling in


A view from beside the green on the 13th hole at Chambers Bay Golf Course, the venue for the 2015 US Open Championship

A view from beside the green on the 13th hole at Chambers Bay Golf Course, the venue for the 2015 US Open Championship

Getty Images

A view from beside the green on the 13th hole at Chambers Bay Golf Course, the venue for the 2015 US Open Championship

Against the background of a dramatic fall-off in playing numbers in American golf, the coffers of the USGA have never been healthier. This curious development can be attributed to a 12-year contract they have signed with Fox TV worth a whopping $1.1bn, or $93m per year.

So, less has meant more for the guardians of the American game, where the golfing population dropped from 26.1 million in 2010 to 25.3 million in 2012. And with the decline accelerating, only 14 new courses were built in the US last year while 157 closed their doors.

It seems that watching the game, however, has lost none of its appeal. In fact Fox, who will take over televising the US Open from NBC, starting at Chambers Bay, Washington, next June, has been set the target of bringing the blue riband of the American game back to the top of the tree.

It was pointed out to them that the US Open outstripped the Masters in 1973 with a weekend rating of 9.0 to 8.4. But the Masters moved to the top the following year and has been widening the gap ever since. Ironically, the big draw for those 1973 figures from Oakmont was a closing course record 63 from Johnny Miller, who became NBC's iconic analyst when they won the USGA contract in 1995.

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The changing nature of sport's engagement with fans and sponsors will be the subject of a one-day conference in Dublin on Thursday.

Sport for Business has brought together a strong roster of speakers from the UK and Ireland to cover four specific areas of social media, innovation, video content and measurement. The keynote speaker is Denis Crushell, head of sports sponsorship at YouTube.

"Digital media is changing sport in hundreds of ways," said Sport for Business founder Rob Hartnett. "From the way in which sport is broadcast to the closer-than-ever engagement fans have with teams and sponsors can have with the fans.

"Sport is a multi-billion Euro industry and the choices being made today and tomorrow on how technology can be used to make it better have never been more critical or of greater potential value."

A limited number of tickets are available from www.sportforbusiness.com.

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ON the day that Katie Taylor continues her quest for a fifth successive World Championship gold medal, it's worth taking a quick look back at her extraordinary career.

It all began back in May 2005 when Taylor travelled to Tonsberg in Norway to take part in the European Amateur Championships, where she defeated Finland's Eva Wahlstrom in the 60kg lightweight final. Taylor was leading 19-17 in the third round when the contest was stopped due to a Wahlstrom eye injury.

Since then, Taylor has enjoyed many historic occasions in Irish boxing, but her words that day clearly reflect the principles that have guided her. "I've trained so hard since I was 10 or 11. This is a dream I've always had. I have great people around me and a great family around me."

Since then Taylor has won five further European golds in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and this year, and world titles in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Truly an amazing boxer and an outstanding role model for Ireland's young generation.

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It's 130 years since the Metropolitans played Killiomor in what could loosely be termed a hurling match. The game was a complete disaster, having to be stopped numerous times due to the fact that the two teams seemed to be playing to different rules.

Michael Cusack decided that a set of rules had to be agreed, Maurice Davin supported him and the rest, as they say, is history.


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